It Could Happen Again

October 31, 2008 | Brian Billick

The question everyone seems to be asking is: “Are the Tennessee Titans for real?” and “Can they go to and win the Super Bowl?” The Titans have made an incredible run thus far and have opened what looks to be an insurmountable lead in the division.

Playing great defense, running the ball well and not turning the ball over has long been a formula for success in reaching the playoffs. The Titans are currently ranked 4th in total defense, 4th in rushing offense and 1st in turnover differential. Indeed, their numbers are very comparable to the numbers we generated in our 2000 Super Bowl run.

2000 Baltimore

2008 Tennessee













Take aways



Give Aways






What is significant is not that these numbers are comparable, but the circumstance in the league is as well.

As workable as the formula is, it rarely equates to a Championship season, particularly of late. At the end of the day this is still a quarterback-driven league, and the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were always awaiting at the end of the playoff trail.

Much like in the 1990’s it was difficult to achieve a championship with the formula because the likes of Troy Aikman, Joe Montana and Steve Young were awaiting those teams that were able to work themselves up to the championship games.

When we worked the formula to reach the 2000 AFC Championship game, no such list of Hall of Fame quarterbacks awaited. At that time the great quarterbacks of the time were transitioning out of the game. There was a void of great quarterback play. As good as Rich Gannon was in 2000, the Oakland Raiders, our opponent in that game, got there by way of the top rushing attack in the NFL and solid play by Gannon who had 28 TD’s to only 11 interceptions. Peyton Manning was just beginning his run as a future Hall of Fame quarterback and had a great year throwing 33 TD’s and only 15 INT’s. However, Indy lost to Miami in the first round of the playoffs, 23-17. In the NFL, Kerry Collins led the Giants to an NFC Championship on a solid, if not spectacular, season with only a 58% completion percentage and 22 TD’s and 13 INT’s. The next year, Jon Gruden used the same formula to lead Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl Championship. It wasn’t until the next year that Tom Brady, and then Payton Manning, began their runs to championships.

This year New Orleans’ Drew Brees, San Diego’s Phillip Rivers, and Denver’s Jay Cutler are the leading quarterbacks in the AFC. However, New Orleans and San Diego rank 27th and 28th in the NFL in rushing offense and Denver has the 29th ranked defense. These are dominate quarterbacks in this league, but they are not having dominant seasons and have little supporting casts.

We have a lot of football left to play, but as we reach the midway point of the season, things are beginning to stack up again in favor of the formula having a chance of gaining a championship.